Matchbox Monday starts 2020 Batch E

Batch E is upon us. Matchbox are now 5/6ths of the way through the 2020 model year, and we are currently up to 80 models released out of the 100 scheduled for the 2020 model year. With another 20 still to come, there is a possibility that not all of the planned 2020 models will arrive (we may get a random rollover into 2021). But that happens quite a lot. I don’t worry about it. So this batch contains 17 new additions, and so I will split it into thirds again. This week I will showcase the first 6. I noticed that there were 3 Jeeps included in the batch, so you will find each week beginning with one of them. This time, it is the brand new one.

Because it is the first one. MB1 for 2020. The 2019 Jeep Renegade was given the manufacturing number MB1199 and arrives in a lovely bright green shade.

I think it is a really cute little model. I know the Renegade was a bit polarizing when it was first unveiled. Smaller than anything ever known, built in Italy alongside the Fiat 500X, was it a real Jeep? Well yes, it says it right there on the front. Just above the traditional Jeep grille. I see quite a few of these on the road. I think they are a great way to get people into the Jeep brand.

The casting comes with a roof area that is a part of the window section. I believe this represents the “My Sky” dual panel opening roof that the model can have. You can retract one half like a sunroof, or remove both parts and have an open top experience.

Being a new casting, I show a base shot as some people are curious what they look like. There are a lot of details crammed in there. You tend to find that with Jeeps though, as they need to include a lot of information on them. Plenty of copyrights and trademarks to incorporate.

I think this is going to be one of my favourite Jeep castings seen by Matchbox. I am a bit of a Jeep fan in general. But as this is brand new, there is no history to it. So I look back at my collection of Jeeps and for some reason one keeps coming to mind.

The MB504 Jeep Liberty. Obviously in real life it is a larger vehicle, but once reduced to miniature size, I can see quite a few similarities in them. Plus, when that was released, it was at the time the smallest they had done. It debuted at the 2001 NAIAS in January that year. Jeep had worked alongside Matchbox to create a model of their brand new vehicle which was being given away at the launch. Matchbox created a limited edition run in plain silver with Jeep and 4×4 tampos. Not even a word of Liberty as they did not know the real vehicle’s name at that point.

It was one of the last models scheduled for use in the basic range that would sport opening doors.

The model was slated to be released in the last batch of 2001 as MB71 in red. However, with all the rush in getting the casting prepared for the 2001 NAIAS event, the mold broke. They had to fix it back together again, and by the time they had, we were now well into 2002. It arrived in the third batch of the year, but still sporting a 2001 model number. They had also prepared too many silver bodies for the promotion too, and these were temporarily in storage at the factory. So they utilized them and used the same tampo printing as the basic range model had and added them to a batch of 10-packs.

Not knowing if they were going to get the mold fixed, they decided not to include it in the 2002 basic range. However, things were sorted so they added it to the Roadside Rescue 5-pack that year in brown. The only tampo printing was on the opening doors on that release. But I do like the little picture of a monkey holding a wrench. I don’t know why it appeals to me so much. I just think it is the clever pun.

In 2003 it saw just the one issue again. This time in the Looney Tunes Back in Action 5-pack. Yellow featuring Taz trying to cook Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny.

In 2004 yet again we only saw 1 release. This time it was in the Around the World series, where it featured Mt Rushmore on the side.

After that it took 2005 off before a final flurry for 2006 to finish off. It saw a final issue in the basic range in the MB69 slot in olive green with black doors with a design on them and mud splatter. We also saw the model see a 1-off Superfast release in red with simple detailing all round in the number 5 slot. I was always sad the model didn’t see much more use.

Next up is the International Armored Truck. This is the MB873 casting of the model after being altered in 2014 for use from 2015 onwards.

It is in the MB27 position for 2020 and comes in grey with a Mattel Federal Credit Union side design. You may also notice something else from the past on it. Sawblade wheels.

Those wheels were designed in the early 2000s and still pop up every now and then. They are not in major rotation but they slip them in occasionally for a little variety.

So let’s go back to the beginning of the International’s journey. The year was 2000. The casting was first created under the MB446 manufacturing number and released as MB58 exclusively in the US basic range. The first 10,000 examples had a Matchbox 2000 logo applied to the hood which was deleted for the rest of production. The model also saw a later use that year in the Serve & Protect 5-pack in a darker grey.

In 2001 it continued being a US exclusive where it was now sold as MB17 in blue. The Money Mobile model was the first one to actually use the sawblade wheels, but that was during production after it had debuted with the 8-spokes. I haven’t got around to picking up that one yet though as until a short while ago I wasn’t actively hunting for wheel variations.

2002 saw the model dropped from the basic range, but used in other areas instead. We had an Across America release in silver with Nevada Diamond Armoured Delivery on the side. The model was also included in the SpongeBob Squarepants licensed 5-pack in blue with Mr Krabs on the side hoarding money. A blank white model was also created for use as a promotional tool as well for companies like ASAP and Color Comp.

In 2003 it returned to the basic range in green. Taking the MB38 slot in the range, again it was a US exclusive. As they were moving in the Hero City era, it had a rather childlike look to it, and the first 10,000 models sported a Hero City logo under the piggy bank. Spongebob Squarepants had another licensed 5-pack release that year too, and the same design was utilized for 2003, except this time the model was purple. Showing this on the other side showcases that it had unique designs both sides.

2003 also saw 2 different promotional releases for the casting too. The first, for Nevada State Bank was quite a simple affair in silver with just the name on it. The other was for Dunbar, and replicated the real ones in black, red and white.

After that the model took 2004 off before returning to the basic range in 2005. This time, for the first time, it was worldwide. MB75 that year was charcoal with an Exchange Euro Metro design on it.

Again we saw a year off before it returned in 2007 with a flourish. We had the basic range MB38 in black with an iNAT design on the side. We also saw a Police 5-pack issue with a bomb squad themed matte black design. Finally a blue Sterling Security design was created for the UK exclusive Best of British series.

In 2008 things were a little quieter. There was a Nickelodeon themed 5-pack issue in off-white.

But we also saw a unique offering which wasn’t officially available outside the country. This is where the factory had a set of uniquely designed models for the production workers made. The models featured different designs on the 2 sides. It was done as a contest in late 2007 and the models were given out at the beginning of 2008.

MB446 was retired after 2009 with 1 final offering in red. This was in the City Services 5-pack that year.

In 2015 the International returned. It was no longer MB446, but now MB873. The main difference was that the body and base had flipped materials (body plastic not metal, base metal not plastic). It was released as MB20 in the basic range, but as was the case at the time, it was also thrown in a 5-pack too. This being the Police Squad 5-pack.

For 2016 it was sold as MB17 in the basic range in what was looking like a rather familiar design.

It was a throwback to its debut back in 2000. Apart from being the newer casting type, the model was off-white instead of pale grey, and the Matchbox logo had been updated to the currently used one. Plus it had different wheels.

In 2017 it saw just the one use again as a part of the City Service 5-pack in green.

In 2018 it was back in the basic range again as MB23. This was a darker grey design to the current one.

And last year saw the 1 issue as a part of the Sweets series in hobby stores and grocery stores in USA. This particular issue was red with a 100 Grand side design.

Next up we have the MB938 Ford F-350 Super Duty Superlift. It takes the MB82 slot in the 2020 range and its first appearance in the basic range since 2016.

The casting is being released in a livery that is celebrating 75 years of Mattel as a toy company, and packaging also depicts the milestone.

I do think it is quite apt that they have chosen this specific vehicle though as Mattel own the real one.

Originally created as a 1-off special for the 2012 SEMA show by Superlift, the vehicle was just sat there afterwards, so Mattel ended up buying it. Abe Lugo at Matchbox has used the vehicle for a number of trips, often appearing in Albuquerque for the convention in it. So it is quite logical that they chose a vehicle they own to celebrate their milestone.

Talking of which, this is the original from the SEMA show. It debuted there in real life, and Matchbox were also involved with the model, and as such it sported a huge Matchbox logo across the side doors. All the pipework is attached to the water tank at the back enabling to tackle fires, with the hose at the front depicted in red too. When first issued the casting was under the manufacturing number MB837.

A very similar, albeit reduced tampo designed version was added to the 2012 basic range too, appearing shortly after. It was sold as MB52 in the range. It is also notable for being a darker metallic orange compared to the solid lighter orange of the promotional.

In 2013 the model was not a part of the basic range, but instead was a part of the 60th Anniversary series in mint with a forestry design. This model was also a part of a mega-60-pack of models released that year too. 59 models from basic and 5-pack issues, as well as this model which was the main part of the pack, and was included in its packaging inside the mega-box too. All others were simply inserted in slots there.

In 2014 the model reverted back to a basic range release, and saw another red issue like the new one. Except that was a traditional fire look. This was also the point where the casting was altered.

The main change was with the rear of the model, as the final section of the body was removed and turned into the final section of the base.

The model was also included in the Action 10-pack that year in white.

2015 saw 2 different issues, and both were fluorescent yellow. It was sold as MB57 in the basic range and in the Fire Commanders Mission Force set. The basic was the one with the orange base.

2016 was to be its final year for a while. This blue MB73 was the last time (as mentioned) it was a part of the basic range.

But there was going to be another release. There was a planned promotional model that was going to be done for Toys R Us in USA. It was fairly similar to the debut release but now in deep bronze instead of a dark orange.

The promotion was cancelled and the model never released. Except somehow a random box accidentally popped up in a single store. You can see in this picture how it looks compared to the regular issue.

In 2019 that regular issue popped back up again. However, this was in the Ford Trucks set exclusive to Walmart in USA. Since that debut release there had been a few changes. Obviously as we know, the casting had been altered (that rear was on the body before), but also the Superlift logo had been updated, so they made sure to use the newer logo there too.

You can see it on the front of the model in this comparison picture. It is nice to see this casting get some uses.

So what is next? The MB1169 ’80 Mercedes-Benz W123 Wagon. Or should I say S123 Wagon. The packaging for the latest release is marking the model down under the correct name? It’s an unusual one. The W123 was released in 1976 in real life by Mercedes-Benz to replace the W114-series model. By default, the vehicles were given the “W” letter internally by Mercedes-Benz. However, upon launch they only sold it as a 4-door saloon/sedan vehicle. But later in 1976 a coupe version appeared, and was signified by being called internally C123. At the end of the year they released a limousine version and the internal reference was V123, and also sold it as a strengthened chassis only, for firms to convert to ambulances, hearses, utility vehicles etc. This was given the internal reference F123. Then in early 1977 they launched the wagon version, and called it S123 internally. So in a way both are right. The W123 is the overall name, but it tends to only apply retroactively to the 4-soor saloon/sedan version as all later body styles/variants were given their own codes. It’s complicated.

The model isn’t though. It’s lovely. A beautiful solid blue. It takes the MB13 slot for 2020.

It has simple front and rear detailing. I like the little “ESTEWGN” license plate. Best of both worlds…. Estate? Wagon? How about both.

Now this is only the 2nd release of this casting so there is not a lot of history to dive into, so thinking about it. Blue? 1980? What else was blue in 1980 in Matchbox-land?

The MB056 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL of course. At that point it was still known as MB56-C, as the manufacturing numbers had not started yet. It actually debuted in 1979 and ran worldwide until 1980 like that. During 2 years of production you could find shades varying from quite a light to dark blue. Most models tended to sport tan interiors but some were found with red interiors too. Although red interiors tend to be on the dark side, as they weren’t produced for long.

As a civilian vehicle it only ever came in blue. Which is a big shame. I have over the years managed to obtain 2 pre-production samples too. One in silver and the other yellow (which also had a yellow base too).

After 1980 the model was tweaked into becoming a taxi. A very traditional German taxi. As was law between 1971 and 2005 in Germany, all taxicabs had to be beige. The early issues still saw tan interiors from the civilian model and unpainted bases, but after a while the base turned silver painted, and then the interior turned chocolate. After 1981 the model was dropped from the US range but continued on another year in the ROW range, at which time it was officially now using the MAN number MB056.

In 1983, still as an ROW exclusive, the casting saw another tweak. It was now a police vehicle. Keeping with the German traditional look, it was issued in white and green with a Polizei theme to it. It ran for 3 years like that and at first the siren on the roof was chrome. Shades of green tampo ranged from quite a light to quite a dark shade, and the occasional one slipped out with no tampo at all. The factory in England’s quality control was never great.

In 1984 a small tweak saw the siren turn black. Again shades of green were afoot. The base was also known to be either silver or left unpainted randomly, and occasionally you might find one with no side tampo too.

In 1985 the tooling was sent over to Macau where it was produced for one more year. The model was pretty consistent throughout that year in a light green tampoed, silver based, black sirened look.

The only real way of knowing though is checking the base.

Talking of which, the model did see a new lease of life. After bowing out in 1985, the tooling was sitting in storage for a while before being sent over to Bulgaria in 1991 for local production. It’s still there. During the 1980s, tooling was only leased on a 1-year basis and had to be sent back. But come the 1990s, the 1-year lease fell by the wayside, and tooling was kept. Only 2 lots were sent over, 1 in 1991 and another in 1993, by which time Tyco had taken over the brand and were not interested in pursuing it any further.

Production has seen many, many different looks, designs, colours etc. Way too many to ever try and catalogue properly. But what you will often find too, is that the model will often appear without the siren on the top too. If you ever want to try and attempt a set of Bulgarian Mercs, good luck. You will need it.

So this bring us to the next model on the list. The MB1208 LEVC TX Taxi. The London Electric Vehicle Company (Ltd) is not actually based in London. It is based in Warwickshire in the UK, and production takes place in the city of Coventry. LEVC is actually owned by Geely (who own Volvo and over half of Lotus) who bought the assets after London Taxi Company (based in Coventry) which used to be known as Carbodies went into administration in 2012. Carbodies was the company that bought the chassis from Austin of the older London Taxi after British Leyland decided that they just didn’t want to carry on any longer, and continued production for many years. They then came up with a new design in the late 1990s, but it wasn;t as successful and sales dwindled. LEVC saw a chance to create an electric taxi, and it has been such a success that they now sell the vehicle to many countries around the world.

People will still see this though and say it’s a London Taxi. It is quite a British icon. This brand new casting takes the MB6 slot in the 2020 range.

Now some may have already noticed, there is no interior. Not that I mind too much. I like the look of it. There is still a good feel to it. It isn’t a solid black, more metallic. I guess a solid black will arrive at a later date. Although nowadays traditional black for UK taxicabs is not guaranteed. Many are in a variety of colours, and often display adverts on the side. But this one is a nice starter with front and rear detailing.

Although I do hope at some point that little taxi sign on the roof might see a bit of orangey-yellow added too.

For those who like seeing bases for new castings, and obligatory base shot before wondering which model to pull out to compare it to?

Well the last one was an older casting, so this time I am going with a newer one. The MB667 London Taxi. It was actually based on an older vehicle, which was a traditionally known London Taxi that was created by Austin and is still quite an iconic look even now. But through time lapse and various other legalities, they were able to create the model at the time without the need for a license. However, later on it was discovered a license was required and it was slightly altered. But I won’t go into all that. I am just here to showcase the models. It started out as MB36 in 2005 and this was a very traditional black cab. Solid black.

It wasn’t long before we saw another one, or 4! Almost immediately after arriving in the basic range the model was also included in the Superfast series too. But the 2005 Superfast series was split into 2. One half, with 15,000 models produced was for the USA market. Another half, with 7,500 models produced was for the ROW market. Plus, in addition, the model was a chase vehicle. Half of the models sported the regular 5-spoke wheels that were being used on classic vehicles (with their classic Lesney-style look) and the other half sported 2-part rubber wheels. BTW white was ROW, red USA.

We also saw 2 promotional releases that year too. Firstly, a traditional looking model in black was the dinner model for the Matchbox convention that took place in Hershey PA that July. Secondly that Christmas, the Mattel Employee Annual Dinner Dance found a gold and ivory example among their box of goodies.

If you thought 2005 was a busy debut year, there was no sign of slowing down yet. For 2006 the model was silver in the basic range as MB36. But during production things went a bit nuts. At first the front grille was painted darker grey. It wasn’t really showing up too well (although you can see it on the left model) so it was deleted off. They then decided to stop chroming the base (both left models have chrome, both right grey). Then before it finished production they swapped the wheels out for tri-spokes instead of the older disk wheel they were using at the time. So we ended up with 4 variations of the basic range issue.

At least Superfast was easy this year. The number 69 model was in the same livery as the 2005 foursome, but was now grey, but with no USA/ROW split or chase, we just had the one.

In 2007 the basic range issue was blue with a US-style side design. It’s a daft fact that in the UK you can’t externally display prices. Which is also quite difficult to do anyway as time of day, day of week, holidays etc can change the tariff rates. We are an awkward country. Don’t believe me? Cars tell us how many miles we do to the gallon. But we buy fuel in litres!

So after that, where was I? Oh yes, 2007. The model was included in the Classic 5-pack in a plain burgundy with simple lights and grille added. It was also a part of the first Best of British series in plain black with front and side detailing added this time.

It was also a part of the Dream Halloween goodie bag. Mattel used to have a lot of fun from a variety of teams making fun designs for models, and in 2007 the London Taxi was chosen to be the Haunted Mansion Tour vehicle, and sported a load of fun designs.

In 2008 the model was chosen to be one of 25 that would sport 2 colours in the basic range. MB52 started out grey, but later on turned white. The yellow side design on the white one was noted as varying in shade during production.

It saw another 5-pack/Best of British combo just like in 2007. The 5-pack this year was a Halloween themed Haunted House pack and the model had out of service and loads of skulls piled up along the side. The BoB model was charcoal with front and rear detailing.

It also saw 2 additional licensed 5-pack issues. One in a Scooby Doo set and another in a Nickelodeon set.

2009 proved to the final year for a while and we saw a Best of British release in gold and another Nickeloden themed licensed 5-pack.

After a few years off, the model returned to the basic range in 2012. Again it was a model that was being released in 2 versions. MB65 started off completely plain with simple front detailing, but later on turned into the First Royal Cab.

Finally, the casting bowed out in 2013. It had a final basic range issue in blue as MB68. Note the Austin FX notation on the side. As I said, legalities. It was also a part of the 60th Anniversary set in black with a London and flag side design (it also sported front and rear details) and Big Ben (the iconic London clock) also appeared in the design. After these the casting was retired. We have not seen a UK taxi represented since, until the new one arrived.

Now finally, just a quickie here. Some models in the basic range this year are seeing 2 versions. Not like before when they would simply be re-coloured for a later batch, but this year they are being given different slots in the range. So therefore the MB327 ’33 Ford Coupe is now being sold as MB95 in batch E.

It is the second Matchbox model to sport the Mooneyes logo.

The first being the MB300 ’56 Ford Pick-up which was in the 2018 Coffee Cruisers 5-pack, and also sold as a single in the 2019 Walmart Ford Trucks set.

Earlier this year the Coupe was in brown as a part of batch B in the MB16 slot.

2 basics after the 2019 9-pack exclusive issue in blue.

And a 2018 5-pack re-debut after the casting (which had been dormant for over a dozen years was given its revamp. I did find a variation with the first 5-pack release. When the Dirty Mudders pack arrived, the windows were quite a dark blue tint, but later on they became much lighter. Not an easy variation to spot as the windows are so small. I wonder how many more versions we will see of this casting as a new ’32 Ford “hot rod” style model is going to be arriving in 2021.

So that is me done for week 1. This time I am just going to go through the batch consecutively, so look out for part 2 next Monday.

So until then stay safe and happy Matchbox-ing.

David Tilley

10 thoughts on “Matchbox Monday starts 2020 Batch E

  1. The LEVC taxi would be good for opening features. Has it got an interior?. The Merc’s old and new as shown are nice. Thanks and write that book….👍📒📚

      1. Seriously fella with that knowledge and love for this brand. Write one. 👍 how things are at the moment people are canceling their TV licences….and more… Old skool books are back…. You have alot to share.

  2. I guess the factories shut down in Thailand and Malaysia or at least put a major halt on distribution because there hasn’t been anything new in a couple of months. The last time I found new Matchboxes was a month and a half ago with the D case I believe. The batch with the MGB Coupe, Dodge Charger R/T, Mini Cooper Countryman, etc. Same goes for Hot Wheels. The last new batch was the L case that hit last month and the month before when in theory we should be on the P case by now. Next month is September when the last batch of the year (the Q case) hits followed by the A case for the following year in October. I don’t think that’s happening this year. I totally blame COVID for this, it’s gotta be the main reason why.

    1. I think Covid 19 definitely affected distribution with many toy chains being shut for months in various countries. Case M and N Hot Wheels have already shown up here in the UK and P & Q in other countries judging by what ive seen on Instagram so production itself doesn’t seem to be have been disrupted too much.

    2. I think what has happened this year has affected distribution more than production. A lot of places put in set orders for things on a regular basis, so as long as they could get to the factory they could still produce them. But once done and shipped out, things started getting tougher as things have been taking longer to get to the end of the line.

  3. I tend to argue that the Renegade can’t really be considered a “real” Jeep, since from what I’ve read and seen it’s literally a Fiat 500X with a different body. It’s certainly not a rugged off-roader like a traditional Jeep, but then again, can any of Jeep’s current offerings actually be considered “real” Jeeps?

    It all depends on how you define what a Jeep is. Do you only consider models that fit strict criteria to be Jeeps, or do you consider any model a Jeep as long as it carries the name? Purists would claim that only Willys-Overland produced Jeeps are real Jeeps. Built for the Second World War, and nearly indestructible, those were the vehicles that really captured people’s attention and got consumers wondering how they could get their hands on a vehicle as tough as those were. I might venture a bit further and say that AMC Jeeps also remained true enough to Jeep’s simple, rugged, reliable namesake. Models like the Wagoneer are a bit of a stretch, but at least they were solid-built and capable. As for the Chrysler, Daimler-Chrysler and Fiat-Chrysler years – especially the latter – the production quality and strange two-wheel-drive, crossover-type, Italian-built vehicles that carry the Jeep nameplate have really altered the meaning of the Jeep name, at least as far as I’m concerned. As a result, I don’t really consider these newer models “real Jeeps.”

    1. Willys-Overland once sold the Jeepster…is that a real Jeep? My favorite of this new set has to be the London Taxi. Lurve that iconic design.

      1. I basically don’t like the stuff Fiat-Chrysler is producing. Jeeps should be simple, rugged and reliable. Most modern Jeeps are complicated, fragile and break down a lot – and the Renegade is a Fiat 500 crossover to boot. But here we’re talking about die-cast models here, and as far as the Matchbox Renegade is concerned, it’s a nice model. I like the colour and the front and rear detailing for sure.

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